Neuroanatomy is an essential course for healthcare students and imparts knowledge regarding the structure of the human nervous system. Its study requires calling upon many skills from students as well as educators. Particularly, challenging is to understand 3-dimensional structures and their relative positions and interfaces from primarily 2-dimensional images and MRI scans. Use of multiple modalities in teaching has been proposed, particularly supplementation of existing teaching methods with plastinated versions of actual brains. While the benefits of using plastinated specimens are many, it is a labor-intensive process that results in a relatively fragile specimen. Furthermore, any time idiosyncrasies of a specimen make it especially valuable, plastination is limited, because it results in only one specimen. To alleviate these issues, the authors propose scanning and reproduction of these samples using digital modeling and manufacturing techniques focused particularly on 3-D printing. In the context of converting from a purely preservation process to one of replication, it becomes immediately clear that the problem of proper mass reproduction, takes on a Design for Manufacture (DFM) construct, particularly, a design for assembly/disassembly/modularity shape. We show how this problem can be approached within the context of DFM, posed as a mathematical optimization problem and present preliminary results from our experiments.

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